Sunday, January 29, 2017

No Hay Problema

Television has disappeared from my life entirely in Mexico and I don't miss it. Time is spent being creative—painting, shooting street photography and processing the pictures, studying Spanish, writing, doing inner practices that are transforming. 
If I want news, I go online and read the New York Times.

The local produce is great. For breakfast, eggs, bacon and toast with fresh coffee. Usually no lunch, maybe a pastry with coffee after nap, and dinner is whatever I pick up fresh during the day.
I went out for “desayuno”, breakfast, today for the first time in over two weeks. The little restaurant across the street beckoned me and I had huevos rancheros, toast and coffee. Then I came back to my apartment and did laundry in the kitchen sink. No hay problema. 

The weather has been sublime, and each day as I walk the city streets the air touches me with gentle warmth as slight breezes play. I love the light. Especially splashed across the brightly colored walls and cobbled walks and streets.

Today is Saturday. Yesterday I stopped painting since I leave on Monday for Ecuador and the panels need to dry, which takes a few days. I have more time to walk about. This morning I found arts & crafts fairs, street festivals, farmers markets with live musicians . . . so much going on and people in festive moods. I bought a hand made leather journal with blank pages to write my “notes to God”. I had the good fortune to purchase it from the man who made it. It is leather and embossed with stylized dancing figures. My current one began September 8, 2009. It is a little red leather bound book with strap. Just for inner talk with God. Other journals are for anything.

At the farmers market all sorts of fresh organic foods were being offered, along with native home made Mexican cuisine, hand made salsas, jams, breads, and such.

Back at the apartment, I got into a text conversation with Therese at my gallery. At that moment, a woman was considering purchasing a painting. We typed a couple texts about price and shipping, and then the woman bought the painting. Satisfying, especially since in Santa Fe it is the slowest tourist part of the year and the Boone Gallery is only open part time. Also because the painting was made during my stay in Venice, Italy, last year. This confirms for me that I am blessed to be able to go anywhere and paint the scenery. People enjoy this.
Venice painting

A nap, then out on the streets again—walking for miles. I have become familiar with and know major landmarks like Plaza Principal at the city heart where the big “Templo” stands. I try to walk places I have not been. This afternoon I found a marvelous old church, Templo de San Juan de Dios. The place was empty and I had it to myself. Light was pouring in from stained glass windows high above, casting soft glowing colors on the warm white walls. Jesus figures, created lovingly and given great feeling were there, along with Mary sculptures. The floors under the humble wooden pews are marble and decorative. I lingered, shot photos and felt holiness.

Later, on the street again, aroma from a shop selling rotisserie roasted chickens over wood fire stopped me. For about $2.50 I bought half a chicken, with roasted potatoes and green chile thrown in for good measure. I tied the bag to my belt and walked on. At Plaza Principal, great festivities were in swing. Mariachi musicians, balloon sellers, children playing, a clydesdale horse, and a donkey decorated with flowers. Flower garlands were popular with the females who put them on their heads with smiles and laughter. Muy bonita! 
Flower garlands, waiting to crown a head.

As I was heading home, a little girl was suddenly by my side. Her poor peasant family was at the curb. She pointed to my bag of chicken and sheepishly held out her hand. No hay problema. I gave her part of my supper. 

And that is the way of life down here in Mexico.

Link  to paintings by Steven Boone

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Travel Is Surprise

A great joy of travel is surprise. For instance when I decided I wanted to visit Egypt, it was not long after 911. Several of the terrorists who hijacked the jet planes and flew them into the world trade towers were Egyptian. There was some hysteria about flying in airplanes, let alone going to Egypt. Thoughts came to mind that as an obvious American I might be kidnapped, tortured etc. I decided to go anyway because it is practically the cradle of the world. Surprise! Great kindness and appreciation awaited. Strangers on bicycles would wave as they passed by on the street, shouting in English, “Welcome to Egypt.” Now, when people ask what is my favorite place of all the countries I have traveled, Egypt is with a couple others at the top. I still have friends in Luxor who are like family.

Father and son musicians, Guanajuato City, Mexico
"The Note" 16x12 inches, oil on board

I am at present in Mexico, a country that has had bad publicity up north. President elect Trump has promised to wall off the entire border. Names have been called. Some people, including a Mexican friend, advised not to visit for fear of harm.

In Guanajuato City and now San Miguel De Allende I have met with nothing but warmth, good will and welcome. The cities remind me of Spain, especially Granada where I have lived. People are earthy, and of practical nature. They seem genuinely interested in me, and want me to like their homeland.

In Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, I had the trust and surprise thing going, but several times as I wandered the streets, locals would grab my arm and tell me it was dangerous to walk about as I was. So far in Mexico, at least in the towns I have lived, I can step in THE DREAM safely.

Typical street, San Miguel De Allende, Mexico

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Heart Connected To Place

I am among Mexicans now. Each day I walk the cobbled streets and walkways of Guanajuato City where I am living. All manner of people greet me and I find if I make eye contact and smile even a little, a warm acknowledgement occurs with reciprocation.

The narrow passages wind about, and when I stop to buy meat at a carniceria (butcher shop), stop in a farmacia for personal incidentals, buy fruit or vegetables at a stand or pick up bread at a paneria, I get by with the little Spanish I know. If I don't understand the exact amount I owe, I reach in my pocket and pull out my change and they take the coins needed and wave me off with a smile.
Everything is cheaper than in the USA.

Tonight, Saturday, I wandered into the city centre (about a ten minute walk) and found street performers, happy crowds of families, all types of people, and roving groups of singers dressed in spectacular costumes with instruments entertaining groups of spectators, getting them to join in singing familiar songs.

I am quickly coming under the spell of this vibrant city. The quicker I assimilate into the culture, the happier I am. I don't like playing “tourist.”

Today I started a painting of a Mexican man leaning against a wall, wearing a broad brimmed hat, looking down at a paper in his hand. A flower pot with blooming plants is next to him and doorway behind. I have made my kitchen into an impromptu studio—it has a big table, is spacious with large windows lending plenty of light.

I am indulging my passion for street photography. Setting forth walking, sometimes for hours I disappear into the path ahead, rambling, only aware of light, texture, sound, the motions of people and the congruence of forms. It is easy to slip into THE DREAM. I am not aware of myself as separate; I am what I see as boundaries disappear. I enjoy taking my chances with odd pictures and look for poignant fleeting images that come and go quickly.

Sometimes I am surrounded by people with cameras, often smartphones attached to the end of sticks so they can take "selfies." I have no interest in this and I do not try and take great tourist pictures. There are photographers with much better equipment and more camera knowledge than I who will always do better. What I bring is my own way of seeing, and a heart connected to place.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Being in THE HEART

In the past I have been able to venture into foreign lands and get lost in the culture and landscape. I want to continue being a free spirit as I travel south in a few days to Mexico and then further to Ecuador. To be free means abandoning an identity that tethers me to a race, nationality, gender or any other limitation of circumstance. It means being in THE HEART, pulsing in rhythm with the beat of wherever I find myself. And I like finding myself in unexpected places. 

So many experiences come to mind. Some I call THE DREAM, because they take me into enchantment. For instance walking across Piazza del Popolo in Rome and having an epiphany of time and place as I stepped over cobblestones under the Egyptian obelisk of Ramesses II from Heliopolis. Or riding a camel at the foot of the pyramids in Giza, Egypt and nothing could tell me I was not a nomad of ancient days. Pressing flesh with Masai tribes people, we smiled together as I experienced their Africa. Living in a houseboat floating on a lake bestrewn with water lilies at the foot of the Himalaya Mountains in Kashmir, India, or getting lost in the great cities of the world, roaming the streets and taking photos in chance places with unexpected outcomes keeps me in THE DREAM.

When I leave the USA I hope to accept bewilderment and then discover life is wonderment when surrendered to SPIRIT.